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Stock Watch: Walker Cup gets highs and lows

By Ryan LavnerSeptember 12, 2017, 1:35 pm

Each week on GolfChannel.com, we’ll examine which players’ stocks and trends are rising and falling in the world of golf.

RISING

Lexi (+8%): Even with a crushing loss at the year’s first major, Thompson never has been better, her full arsenal of shots (and short game!) on display during a wire-to-wire victory in Indianapolis. She’s No. 2 in the world in ranking only.

U.S. Walker Cup team (+6%): That’s one way to banish memories from 2015, rolling up a record-tying 19 points and 12-point margin of victory over one of the better Great Britain and Ireland teams at Los Angeles Country Club.

Matt Fitzpatrick (+4%): Still just 23, he became the youngest Englishman to win four European Tour titles. Would love to see how he fares with a full year on the PGA Tour. 

Collin Morikawa (+3%): One of three U.S. Walker Cuppers to post a 4-0 record at LACC, Morikawa, a rising junior at Cal, is this scribe’s pick for breakout amateur star in 2018.

Ernie (+1%): Not a surprise, because the Big Easy has an even bigger heart, but he withdrew from this week’s Euro Tour event to help his fellow South Floridians in the wake of Hurricane Irma.


FALLING

Lydia Ko (-1%): A sign of progress, perhaps, since she matched Lexi over 36 holes, but being blown away on the final day – and beaten at her own game – shows how much further she must go to return to the top.

Scott Hend (-2%): Winning is hard, but especially for 44-year-olds with a lifetime of competitive scar tissue. Leading by two at the start of the final round, he missed a 5-footer to win in the playoff, then made a sloppy bogey to hand the title to Fitzpatrick.

Plans for Shinnecock (-3%): If you thought that maybe the USGA turned a corner at Erin Hills – where its massive fairways favored the big hitters and created a birdie barrage – then the news that the USGA is reportedly looking into narrowing Shinnecock won’t be received well. News flash: The world’s best will still find a way to score.

Walker Cup format (-5%): Yes, the two-day format makes it unique, but it’s a shame that the competition, after two years of buildup and a week’s worth of practice, is over in 36 hours. GB&I’s lack of depth would be exposed over three days, but the event deserves better spacing.

Nick Price (-6%): Captaining a massive underdog at Liberty National, he needed to swing for the fences with his wildcard picks and wound up with  …  Anirban Lahiri, who missed the critical 2 1/2-footer in 2015 and doesn’t have a top-15 since June. Ugh.

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Weather extends Barbasol to Monday finish

By Associated PressJuly 23, 2018, 12:25 am

NICHOLASVILLE, Ky. - A thunderstorm has suspended the fourth round of the PGA Tour's Barbasol Championship until Monday morning.

Sunday's third stoppage of play at Champions Trace at Keene Trace Golf Club came with the four leaders - Hunter Mahan, Robert Streb, Tom Lovelady and Troy Merritt at 18 under par - and four other contenders waiting to begin the round.

The tournament will resume at 7:30 a.m. on Monday. Lightning caused one delay, and play was stopped earlier in the afternoon to clear water that accumulated on the course following a morning of steady and sometimes-heavy rain.

Inclement weather has plagued the tournament throughout the weekend. The second round was completed Saturday morning after being suspended by thunderstorms late Friday afternoon.

The resumption will mark the PGA Tour's second Monday finish this season. Jason Day won the Farmers Insurance Open in January after darkness delayed the sixth playoff hole, and he needed just 13 minutes to claim the victory.

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Watch: Spectator films as Woods' shot hits him

By Will GrayJuly 23, 2018, 12:07 am

It was a collision watched by millions of fans on television, and one that came at a pivotal juncture as Tiger Woods sought to win The Open. It also gave Colin Hauck the story of a lifetime.

Hauck was among dozens of fans situated along the left side of the 11th hole during the final round at Carnoustie as the pairing of Woods and Francesco Molinari hit their approach shots. After 10 holes of nearly flawless golf, Woods missed the fairway off the tee and then pulled his iron well left of the target.

The ball made square contact with Hauck, who hours later tweeted a video showing the entire sequence - even as he continued to record after Woods' shot sent him tumbling to the ground:

The bounce initially appeared fortuitous for Woods, as his ball bounded away from thicker rough and back toward the green. But an ambitious flop shot came up short, and he eventually made a double bogey to go from leading by a shot to trailing by one. He ultimately shot an even-par 71, tying for sixth two shots behind Molinari.

For his efforts as a human shield, Hauck received a signed glove and a handshake from Woods - not to mention a firsthand video account that will be sure to spark plenty of conversations in the coming years.

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Molinari retirement plan: coffee, books and Twitter

By Will GrayJuly 22, 2018, 9:35 pm

After breaking through for his first career major, Francesco Molinari now has a five-year exemption on the PGA Tour, a 10-year exemption in Europe and has solidified his standing as one of the best players in the world.

But not too long ago, the 35-year-old Italian was apparently thinking about life after golf.

Shortly after Molinari rolled in a final birdie putt to close out a two-shot victory at The Open, fellow Tour player Wesley Bryan tweeted a picture of a note that he wrote after the two played together during the third round of the WGC-HSBC Champions in China in October. In it, Bryan shared Molinari's plans to retire as early as 2020 to hang out at cafes and "become a Twitter troll":

Molinari is active on the social media platform, with more than 5,600 tweets sent out to nearly 150,000 followers since joining in 2010. But after lifting the claret jug at Carnoustie, it appears one of the few downsides of Molinari's victory is that the golf world won't get to see the veteran turn into a caffeinated, well-read troll anytime soon.

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Molinari had previously avoided Carnoustie on purpose

By Rex HoggardJuly 22, 2018, 9:17 pm

CARNOUSTIE, Scotland – Sometimes a course just fits a player’s eye. They can’t really describe why, but more often than not it leads to solid finishes.

Francesco Molinari’s relationship with Carnoustie isn’t like that.

The Italian played his first major at Carnoustie, widely considered the toughest of all The Open venues, in 2007, and his first impression hasn’t really changed.

“There was nothing comforting about it,” he said on Sunday following a final-round 69 that lifted him to a two-stroke victory.


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In fact, following that first exposure to the Angus coast brute, Molinari has tried to avoid Carnoustie, largely skipping the Dunhill Links Championship, one of the European Tour’s marquee events, throughout his career.

“To be completely honest, it's one of the reasons why I didn't play the Dunhill Links in the last few years, because I got beaten up around here a few times in the past,” he said. “I didn't particularly enjoy that feeling. It's a really tough course. You can try and play smart golf, but some shots, you just have to hit it straight. There's no way around it. You can't really hide.”

Molinari’s relative dislike for the layout makes his performance this week even more impressive considering he played his last 37 holes bogey-free.

“To play the weekend bogey-free, it's unthinkable, to be honest. So very proud of today,” he said.